Things have been very quiet on the blog recently and it’s been far too long since my last article. I’m really sorry about the silence! The thing is: I’m PREGNANT! We’re so excited that our little family of three will soon be four but on a personal level, I feel like I have won a battle against my PCOS (I’m still waging war against it but I’m celebrating the victory of this battle for now).
Before I get onto some of the things that I did to aid my fertility, I thought I’d share my experience of the first trimester, for those of you who are also pregnant or trying to conceive.
The last three months have been harder than anticipated. I don’t remember things being this hard the first time round but then I didn’t have a toddler to look after and I also didn’t know all the stats and figures relating to PCOS and miscarriage. I have to say that I think I have been genuinely depressed over the last three months. This is probably a combination of raging pregnancy hormones and huge anxiety over miscarriage. Now that I’m coming out of the first trimester, I am starting to feel more like myself and it is such a relief (my hubby agrees!)
The risk of miscarriage with PCOS is a real one and I know one that many of you have experienced the heartache of miscarriage. I do believe that there are things that we can do to lower our risk of miscarriage and it is something that I will be looking into in the future so that we can all give our future pregnancies the best possible chance. Also, miscarriage is not inevitable just because you have PCOS. I have been incredibly fortunate to never have suffered a miscarriage and this is my second pregnancy. So, more on that in the future, but for now, let’s have a look at some of the steps I took to improve my fertility.
All of the things that I did to aid my fertility I have spoken about before in various articles on the blog so none of it is new, really. Here is a break down anyway:
I have been very careful about my diet, making sure that I eat plenty of vegetables, some fruit in moderation, lean protein and some healthy snacks like nuts and apple with almond butter. I have totally avoided processed foods and only eaten whole foods. A typical day looks like this:
- Breakfast: 2 eggs with some bacon or a green smoothie
- Lunch: Salad with some lean meat like chicken breast or salmon
- Dinner: Roasted vegetables (sweet potatoes, baby new potatoes and parsnips) with broccoli or other greens and steak or chicken.
- Snacks: Nuts, trail mix, fruit with almond butter
So, you can see that I always have some protein at every meal to moderate the release of carbs into my blood stream so that my insulin levels don’t spike. Also, I have a moderate carb in take. I have been following the meal plans that I put together for the PCOS Diet Support Community. You can find out more about the meal plans here, if you are interested.
Inositol and Folic Acid: You can read more about Inositol here but I think that this is a vital supplement for women with PCOS, whether you are trying to conceive or not. I took 2g in the morning and 2g in the evening, and one 400mcg Folic acid daily.
Omega 3: This is important in lowering your testosterone levels. If you can lower your testosterone levels, you should see an improvement in a lot of your PCOS symptoms. I took 3,600mg fish oil with 792mg EPA and 288mg for a total Omega 3 intake of 1,080mg per day.
Vitamin D: Vitamin D is important for fertility in general and is a vitamin that 83% of women with PCOS are lacking in. It also helps with insulin resistance. The Vitamin D council recommends that you take 5,000 IU/day.
I must confess that I have not been particularly good about exercising, in spite of all of the research that I did on the importance of exercise for PCOS. I do have a very busy two year old so I’m often on the go and don’t tend to sit for long periods of time. We also do try to get out and walk to the park or local shops when we can. But that really is the extent of my exercise and activity.
I have also been taking my basal body temperature every morning to monitor whether or not I was ovulating. You can read more about that here. I really found this helpful because when my cycle was erratic, I knew it was down to my PCOS and not pregnancy (this saved me a small fortune on pregnancy tests!) Also, when I did fall pregnant, I was able to pinpoint the exact day that I ovulated to more accurately calculate my due date.
I had been doing all of these things consistently for close on a year prior to falling pregnant with the aim of managing my PCOS. We started actively trying for a baby 5 months before we conceived. If you are struggling to fall pregnant and becoming despondent with your fertility journey, here are some stats to give you some hope:
A 2009 study of 154 women with PCOS showed that:
- 86.7% of those who attempted to fall pregnant had given birth to at least one child (91% of women in the control group who didn’t have PCOS had at least one child).
- 67.5% of the women involved had at least one spontaneous pregnancy.
- Interestingly, this study did not show an increased rate of miscarriage in women with PCOS.
- Also, women with PCOS tend to have a higher ovarian reserve. As our cycle is often irregular, not all of our follicles mature, meaning that we have more viable follicles when we are older than women without PCOS do. Basically, age is not necessarily as big a hindrance to falling pregnant for women with PCOS.
Summing it up:
So, I hope that my story and some of the research gives you hope and determination on your journey to extend your family. By following a good diet, taking your supplements and exercising regularly, you are giving your body the best shot of falling pregnant and maintaining that pregnancy.
I’m sure that there are so many of you who are trying to conceive or have already conceived. I’d love to hear from you so that we can celebrate our victories and encourage each other when it’s needed! Leave me a comment below!